Tumultuous Years

There is no endeavor in the world that is more exhilarating and rewarding than being a member of a qualified and dedicated Graphic Design faculty working together as a team with students who are committed, talented and eager to learn. The situation begins with faculty members as students tend to mirror their instructors. The quality of faculty usually originates with the Department or Program Head based on an assumption that one good person recruits another. A noteworthy and productive educational program lasts only as long as it is recognized and supported by the administration. These are the determinates of effective education rather than money, equipment, space or the number of students or reputation of teachers or schools.

There are few good programs in Graphic Design in this country and some of the reasons are that too many teachers are themselves graduates of weak educational programs; poor instruction and curriculum usually result in graduates who are ineffectual at teaching. Administrators do not always recognize instructional abilities because they are hired mainly for fiscal or management skills. They often hire, appoint or promote unqualified people to educational positions. Within universities, teachers are more likely to be hired on the basis of academic rather than professional credentials or proven teaching abilities. Largely because of financial pressures, the educational system frequently adopts values and operates in a manner which is more consistent with business rather than educational objectives. Great improvements in education could be realized without any additional funds by simply changing institutional policies and practices.

My opinion is that there is nothing wrong with American students. Given a good learning environment, a sound curriculum, high performance standards and competent instruction, there are many students who are committed, talented, productive and deserving of a better education than most are receiving. The problems are with the educational system itself, and the quality of instruction. It has proven impossible in most situations for individuals or faculty as a whole to bring about the required reforms within their institutions. There needs to be a concerted effort to improve the quality of Graphic Design education. To accomplish this, there has to be the combined support from professionals and educators at large. Many teachers are required to function under nearly impossible conditions related to insufficient number of faculty, inadequate space, low operating budgets and institutional policies that are inhibitive to achieving educational goals.

Professional organizations such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts and International Design Center combined with educational organizations such as the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and the Graphic Design Education Association need to coordinate their efforts with educators toward a few defined goals. These goals might be considered
as standards requisite for any educational program advertising itself as providing professional education in Graphic Design.

Despite working conditions in most schools, productive education al programs in Graphic Design can still be achieved by qualified and dedicated faculty. It is my intention to pass on experiences in teaching Graphic Design over a period of thirty-five years at a variety of educational institutions. It is hoped that my observations and experiences might inform or stimulate other Graphic Design teachers in a manner leading toward general improvement in the quality of Graphic Design education.

I have described step by step the evolution of problems from how they originated to final presentation. My purpose is not to instruct another teacher in how to do my problems, but rather to expose the process of how problems evolved with the hope that it might provide insight for other teachers to develop their own approach to design pedagogy.


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